Freddy Krueger is crying tonight.
Wes Craven made his first film, The Last House on the Left, at age 33 in 1972, innovating the horror genre and reinventing it again with each of his films, always pushing the limits and constantly challenging himself. What a legacy he has left.
I had the great honor of interviewing Mr. Craven for the film Red Eye 10 (!) years ago. He was kind and fun to talk to.
Many journalists had shown up at the junket with the box sets of his films, which he graciously signed. Legend. He was responsible for so many of my screams!
The interview below was published in the newspaper I worked for at the time. (© Aline Talia Soghomonian 2005-2015. All rights reserved)
We still shudder at the memory of Freddy and Scream, but Wes Craven’s latest offering is a psychological terror set on an airplane. In Red Eye, starring Cillian Murphy and Rachel McAdams, the master of horror flicks dwells deep in the mind of a terrorist. He talks to Metro about Scream 4 and his flourishing career as a contributing writer for Glamour magazine.
What struck me was the physical transformation of Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) into Jack the Ripper: his croaky voice when his trachea is punctured, his dandy haircut, the scarf, the limp. Was that intentional?
Wes Craven: No, but it’s interesting. I’ll take credit for it! (Laughs) The scarf was a conflict. I wanted him to lose his masculine strength. By doing that, it was almost foppish, so that was the only thought. But I think in my next interviews, I’ll say that it was my idea! (Laughs)
Red Eye is different from your other movies – it’s more thriller than horror.
For a long time, I’ve been wanting to do a thriller. I just thought it would be a way to deal with material that was a little bit more adult, would just get me a little out of genre. I felt like everybody was doing horror right now. That was kind of like a crowded field, and I don’t like tripping up with the gang, so it was a way of going out and doing something unexpected. But I think really more than anything else, it was just a great script. I love the characters. They’re really interesting characters. In fact, I’d like to do another movie with them.
Something like that with the same actors. At the end, they (the characters) broke through something approaching a friendship in a strange way, because he had totally been defeated, taken apart, and yet his last look at her has this strange sort of smile of admiration and realization that he’s never going to be able to think the way before he thought about women which is, in a way, the way her character went. I think her character thought she could keep her secret, be basically decent and not do anything she’d be ashamed of doing. Suddenly, she’s making the decision to call and causing the possible death of people, so her character’s demolished and yet she’s gaining strength. So I think it would be interesting to see what Jack Rippner became once he has his cocky character totally demolished.
It would be interesting to see who he really is.
Yeah, we’ll see. A sequel is not ruled out.
Do you get offers to do Scream 4, or is that episode definitely over?
Scream was a trilogy from the beginning. It’s the same woman in three different spaces. It’s different from doing a sequel where you have all the same actors and do the same thriller, I guess. That, I would not want to be! In fact, people are saying I should do Scream 4 now. I’m like, no thanks! (Laughs)
Maybe in ten years?
The other passengers on the plane in Red Eye reminded me a bit of Airplane! They’re quite stereotypical, sometimes even caricatures. Did you actually research them prior to filming the movie?
Yeah, we looked at all those airplane movies. It wasn’t terribly intentional, but I do like doing things that seem to be like you saw before, so to me, that is always kind of fun.
Have you ever wondered who was sitting next to you on a plane?
No. The film wasn’t so much about the terror of being on an airplane with a terrorist, but the psychology of a terrorist and how a normal person would deal with it, what strength did you have to find and how would that affect your life.
It’s a no-escape situation.
Yeah, and even with help as close as this, she couldn’t [ask for help] because something horrible would happen to her father. It was a little bit like Phone Booth. I think Carl Ellsworth, the writer, was inspired by The Phone Booth. It was a similar situation.
Have you seen Flight Plan?
No. Well, we were aware of it. The studio, when they hired me, they said, “Do you want to come out before Flight Plan because it’s a huge budget?” If we came out at the same time, they’d blow us out of the water, so it was very important for us to go very fast.
I suppose you’ve seen the dailies or cuts from The Hills Have Eyes remake. What do you think of Alexandre Aja’s take on it?
Alex was a huge fan of The Hills Have Eyes. He told us that it was the reason he got into wanting to make films, so we felt like that would be a way to have a fresh impression.
What’s your next project?
Get some sleep! I’m meeting with a troupe in London that wants to make a thing they want to call “Wes Craven’s Magique”, based on an Irish magician’s stage play, which is a magic illusion, kind of frightening and bloody. They want to do it on a big scale for Las Vegas, so we’re working on that with people that do illusions for David Copperfield, really top-notch people. So it’s kind of intriguing to do something for stage. And then I’ve got a stack of scripts. I’ve got a lot of scripts now because of Red Eye!
Do you plan to write more articles for Glamour?
Actually, they recently contacted me and said they wanted me to do something else. I want to write something of my own.